Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chettinadi Chennai - Wandering wisdom

As if the Bangalore auto drivers were not enough for me that I experienced their brotherhood in Chennai who are a bunch of hooligans on the prowl to rob you the minute you park yourself in their vehicles. Not only do they demand more money from you but even threaten to leave you at some dark desolate place where you will find no conveyance if you do not pay them the amount quoted by them.

Thanks to all this, I chose to wander around Chennai by foot. The weather being pleasant, I didn't face much difficulty stayin in the sun. Just putting down a few things at ramdom which I came across while stroolling for a couple of hours.

Though I am not a very good patron of fruits being cut and sold in the streets by vendors, I think this person here has done a fairly good job. The cut fruits are put in a transparent packet, the opening of which is sealed by by folding the excess of the bag and binding it with a toothpick. The user can easily open up this packet and use the toothpick to eat the fruits - very simple and effective.

Down a few steps, I saw the first local movie poster in Chennai; looked like some sci fi movie to me where the hero and heroine would set out on a quest to go to some fantasy land ... something Vikram n Betaal style.

I little further I was tempted to pick up a couple of Tommy Hilfiger vests being sold on the pavement for a meagre price of just Rs.40/-. I'm sure Tommy would faint to find his knock-offs being sold so freely in a city where his originals would be priced atleast 1o times the amount in the showroom.

Lastly, I saw this young guy sitting on the pavement with his parrot in a cage and pulling lots of fast ones on this lady sitting down in front of him with grim concentration written across her face - I'm sure they will still do the same 10 years down the line and nothing much is gonna change no matter how fancifully this astrologer presents his client's future on a platter.

Chennai turned wasn't much of a surprise and turned out to be like any other metro, though I somehow go back with the impression that Chennai is "The Delhi of the south".

P.S. Forgot to mention that Chennai has a very well planned placement of subways and the next time you are in Chennai dont miss food from Saravana Bhawan - it has totally kick ass south indian food.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Chettinadi Chennai - The US Visa Exam

Gosh !! I thought that the last exam I gave in my life was the class 12 ISC exam. Little did I know that the greater exams in life are due to come. In Chennai last tuesday, I was amazed to see the queue outside the US consolate office for Visa interviews.

There was everyone around........ kids, teens, youngsters, mid-aged people, old men with sticks and ones on wheel chairs as well. And the extra baggage with them being their family. Youngsters helping the elderly and the elderly praying and blessing the yougsters before the latter go to appear for their interviews.

People waiting to get into a queue

Just leaves me wondering that what is so great about going to the USA when our country is at its peak of development? Seing the huge daily attendance of people to immigrate it makes me wonder as to how much of potential knowledge base we are losing out everyday. Some people differ by saying that its leads to greater foreign exchange monitarily due to NRIs; but we need to decide as to what is more valuable - knowledge and the belief in oneself as a nation or short term monetary gains?

I was under the impression that today the youth is more inclined towards staying in India as this is the right time when we are growing from all quaters - but that impression lasted till I was in Chennai.

Nearly 100m from the US consulate
where people are waiting on the pavemant.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Zip Zap Zoom !!

Last Monday I made a one day visit with my sister to Chennai and the trip though refreshing, as I got to catch up with her, had with it a few experiences attached - which were a mix of plesant and no so pleasant ones as well. Well to start with, a pleasant one.

As I reached station early for a change (one of the rare times that I reached the station an hour in advance) I had the chance to look around a bit of Bangalore Central station. What attracted my attention in particular was the automated platform ticket machine. There have been many times when I had to queue up for a long time to get a single platform ticket for just Rs.3/- .

To start with, this machine looks pretty clean ( according to general standards at railway stations) and thus inviting. The signage is placed at a good height and protrudes at a right angle from the top of the machine thus increasing visibility from both sides.

Taking a look at the instructions, being broken down into two clear columns makes it much easier for the user to comprehend based on which mode of transaction to opt for.

I was often irritated to come across machines which accepted coins of just a single denomination. However, this is well tackled in this macine with it accepting Rs. 1/2/5 coins in a combination for a maximum of 3 tickets for a single transaction. So we have a new machine here which accepts all the coins in my wallet and recognizes each one of them once inserted. It is also clearly communicated that " Machine gives no change!"

The display comes alive once you have put in a coin and recognises the coin you inserted and tells you how many more coins to insert depending on the number of tickets you want.

Ok..... now talking about the real output - the ticket. The ticket is a neat square piece of paper with the relevant information on it and more importantly the right ones highlighted by a larger size.

For me the experience of using this machine was abosolutely new and more importantly hassle free. Kudos to South Indian Railway for experimenting and introducing this macine and I really hope to see these machines installed all across the important stations thus leading to lesser queues.

My sisiter being with me alongside commented that this must be a foreign made machine which I being a design student vehemently opposed saying that in India also we have the manpower to come up with such a technology. Well, my belief didnt serve me right till I found out that this machine is produced by a german company called Hectronic who are in this business for 50 years already and have a few models ready for parking and ticketing machines.

Whatever it might be, I will surely be looking around for this macine next time I visit a station to drop anyone :-)

Santa Sadhu

In Bangalore for the last couple of weeks, I got to see a fair bit of the city thanks to a friend of mine who was kind enough to lend me his scooty.

Well, at one of these junctions i saw a man dressed in a sadhu-like attire selling something to vehicles waiting at a traffic junction.

As he came closer i realised that keeping up with the mood of the season this person is selling Santa caps to people...... lucky that i could find time to take out my cam n click him.

Dressed in a lungi and a saffron shirt with a carelessly tied pony this man was a perfect image of a homogeneous culture which we are headed towards today where we clelebrate all occasions keeping aside cast, creed, religion and alike.

Though a bit of a visual jerk ( in terms of mechanics ;-) ) I somehow liked this concept of a Santa Sadhu...... just that if Santa would have seen this man he would have probably said, " Dude!! Thats ma cap - wear it like I do and not like a clown "

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Failed outings

My take on plans that are made beforehand about going out with friends have a low success rate. Out of my experience one should just make a plan n then ask people " Are you coming or not?".... n then set out even if it is "ekla cholo re".

Pulling through the drab day - I make a plan,
With friends i wanna chillout for a time-span,
So I call them up n fix up a time,
And make myself some tea with lime.

The hands circle a couple of turns and its the time to go,
But alas! nobody turns up to show !!!
Dejected at one more failed outing - I feel so lost,
Finally - I write a post at my dejection's cost.

Ok ... now you know that I can be poetic when in a melancholy state of mind ;-)

Sorry for subjecting you to my rustic poetry but yes I hope we had a little less of failed outings to save me from my fits of melancholy.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Dor - Post Mortem

For a lazy blogger like me, something to write on has be really really inspiring to awaken me from this blogsnore. Dor happened to be that which inspired me to write this blog.

Strong and bold in its concept, I feel Dor has lived up to the expectations one would have from Nagesh Kuknoor. Now is the time when new directors are willing to work on stories which are new and that too turning them to mainstream movies. Dor as such is a quite a serious film, though Shreyas Talpade comes in now and then to plug in some humour also proving his versatility as an actor.

The story is of two women (Meera and Zeenat) whose husbands (Aamir and Shanker) have gone to work in Saudi and stay together. Alls well............ so wheres the twist? Meera on one of her monthly calls to her husband (and that too from the top of the village's own miniature Mt.Everest) gets to know that her husband has fallen off the 10th floor balcony of his flat and is dead. Since Aamir used to stay with him thus due to lask of any other evidence (of this so called 'haadsa') he is considered to have killed Shanker and is to be hanged in 2 months time.

Twist part 2 is when one External Affairs official takes a holiday to drive up to Himachal in order to inform Zeenat that there is a way out to save her husband and that is if Meera singns on a "maafinama", thus forgiving Zeenat's husband. Zeenat is a typical Bharatiyan Nari who does not waste a minute to decide that she will comb the entire Rajasthan to find out Shanker's widow and thus bail out her husband. In comes Mr. Bahurupian, Shreyas Talpade and smartly not only gobbles down Zeenat's bread-butter but also does a disappearing act along with her bag. Hindi film co-incidences return to haunt you when Mr. Bahurupian saves Zeenat at the middle of the night from two stalkers and thus giving back her bag and turning a philanthropist at heart by offering to help her to find Meera. So after scouring the rest of Rajasthan, Zeenat does reach the right village thanks to a magnifying glass held Masterji. Being rebuked by Shaker's parents Zeenat stays back in order to get a chance to meet Meera, which she does soon. Meera's humility completely stupifies Zeenat and she is not able to break the news to Meera though she feels that she is cheating the latter. Twist no.3 comes when Zeenat gets to know that there are just 2 days left to her husband's execution. She finally tells Meera about her husband and Meera is all ready to take revenge by not signing on the "maafinama" and the two sahelis give each other a dose of their previos dialouges learnt from each other. Back home Meera is locked up in a room as she got friendly with Zeenat. The other widow in the family (Meera's grandmother inlaw) comes to her rescue and freeing her asks her to do what her heart wants to do. All of us know by now that Meera has had a change of heart overnight and now its her turn to scan half the Thar desert to find Zeenat at the train station(not to mention the competition she gave to the train engine). So both of the sahelis are milli once again. The last twist is when the makeup-less Gul Panag extends her hand of freedom to Meera from the moving train and Meera obliges (this time she beats the train) adding onto a little bit of extra drama at the closing stage.

The film is shot at exotic locations and had excellent shots of Rajasthan, though at times I feel that it gets a bit overpowering. Though I am no big film citic but I felt that every frame composition has been handled very well. The music by Salim Sulaiman is very well composed and is quite a challenge for a film like this.

Just a closing note for Mr.Kuknoor - " Please try and be behind the camera till the time you get rid of that accent of yours"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The future is Stainless

Comeon !!! Hurry up guys - I shouted out to Ashutosh and Khushboo trying to register us with the NID portal while Maithili and Sunil were in the process of typing the final text for " Action Objects-Emerging needs for changing lifestyles". Talking about me, I was stationed inbetween them like in a F1 pit stop waiting to transfer the file onto the former computer using an USB drive which reminded me of passing a baton in a relay race back in my school days. With the writeup safely attached and mailed just before the deadline of 11P.M. we gave ourselves a high five each and dispersed hoping that we are one of the 12 teams which make it to the final round based on our writeup.

A week down the line when the results were declared we got to know that only 14 teams had registered, thus validating all 14 teams for the O.P. Jindal Stainless Steel Contest.

So all the team members met the following weekend with executives from Jindal Stainless Steel briefing us about what the entire contest is all about. Faculty co-ordinators Meena Kadri, Praveen Nahar and Dimple Soni then talked about the methodology we are to follow and basic protocols.

After a break, we all met again to collect stationery and then off we were with an exercise quite popular in NID called BRAINSTORMING.

With two hours of intensive brainstorming we listed down possible categories in which we feel that there have been significant change in lifestyles. Some of these are transportation, public spaces, communication, food, education and environment just to mention a few. We chose to work in the field of food, citing problems like food storage, food packaging and leftover food disposal.

In the segment of food we started looking at the problems in the traditional tiffin carrier/box or dabbas as they are known commonly. The problems with the existing one are as follows:
  • It is difficult to open the frame of the dabba.
  • The frame/skeleton holding all the containers (4 on an average) occupies a lot of space when opened.
  • The bottom of each container is greased with the food in the container below it.
  • Sometimes containers get deformed and thus are a problem to re-assemble after eating.
  • It is difficult to eat from the containers of the dismantled dabba and a plate to eat on is always preferred.

Based on the following problems, we decided to design a modern tiffin box which
  • One would be proud to carry.
  • Where food would remain hot.
  • One could use as a plate as well, when opened up.
  • would be compact and occupy least space.
  • would have just the right volume to contain an average healthy diet so that people dont overeat ( Infact it was ovserved that in the case of the traditonal dabbas, people used to eat more than their diet just inorder to escape from the guilt of wasting excess food).
After a week's work we designed a tiffin box which is dynamic in its formal aspect and leaning at an angle with respect to the ground thus naming it "Obtuso". Obtuso is broken down into an upper and lower chamber, so designed that the upper chamber slides open forming a support for the tiffin to stand on as well. The lid of the upper chamber opens and forms a support with the help of the carrying handle thus making it a surface where an inner container can be taken out and placed on.

Finally, we had to articulate the entire design process in only three A3 sized sheets on which we would be evaluated for the top three awards. A night out followed for the same purpose where all of us sat together and complied our work on three sheets thanks to the help of graphic designers Sunil with Adobe Illustrator and Ashutosh with SketchUp. The output looked crisp, as you can see in the three pictures above.

Though there were still loopholes in our design we were quite happy and satisfied with the effort given an a week's time. Needless to say that we had our fingers crossed when the awards were being announced but sadly had to be consoled by the last slide of the awards presentation - "The future is stainless".

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I dont know why it took me such a long time to begin writing this blog. I didn't know much about the concept of blogging till one of my colleagues introduced me to it. So from thereon i plunged into the world of blogging reading the blogs of Rashmi Bansal, Amit Varma and ofcourse my colleague's, of whom i have been a regular reader till date.

So it was with the advent of one of my closest friend's travel diary blog that i thought that i should also join the bandwagon and make my presence felt on the web..... well that not being the main reason, but there are issues i feel for and about which i wanted to talk about......... not with the intention to make people read it or to be another popular blog but just feeling good about expressing myself.

Well, a little bit of introduction about myself - Born and brought up in Calcutta and not Kolkata, I did my schooling in La-Martiniere for Boys followed by my graduation in Fashion Design and Informtion Technology from NIFT, Calcutta and currently a PG student in National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. A diehard Calcutta fan at heart and a even more ardent patroniser of the streetfood of Calcutta, I just cant stop singing praises about Calcutta, though there are
greater mortals in my batch singing day and night about their city being the capital in all possible fields.

Talking about my batch - we are quite a mixed bag of people from all over the country. The eleven of us - from Pune, Bombay, Goa, Yamuna Nagar, Dibrugarh,
Manipal, Chandigarh, Benaras and ofcourse Calcutta are possibly one of the best examples of compatibility. It is in their company that i feel proud to be part of the family where i can totally learn and then unlearn without any form of embarrassment where each one of them is a silent teacher to me.

To my batchmates whom i dearly love..... this is for you..... and hopefully all thats more to come will be a lot inspired from you. Godspeed.

A pic from our visit to Diu last year